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A Survey for the Ladies about Christian Romantic Novels and Marriage Books

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Ladies,

I would love to have your help! You are welcome to leave comments on the questions, as well. The more I can understand how we are being impacted by romantic books and marriage books, the better! 🙂 If you leave comments, you are giving me permission to possibly quote you anonymously in a future post or book. Thanks for having this important discussion with me. Y’all are such a blessing!

 

 

This question below should end with the word “way?”

 

 

46 thoughts on “A Survey for the Ladies about Christian Romantic Novels and Marriage Books

  1. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    I’d love to hear my single sister’s thoughts on these topics! Please join me in a discussion about how we as believing women are impacted by romantic novels. Please feel free to answer whichever questions apply in your life.

    1. Hi peaceful wife!
      I dont know if you remember but my name was vanessa26 i left comments on the “let him persue you..” blog from feb 2013. And if you tried to email me then my apologies as i had to change address because i got hacked :(.
      I just wanted update and to tell you that for the past two months i unexpectedly met a lovely man who i dont usually go for who happens to be a dedicated follower of Christ who encourages me in Gods word and texts me scriptures from timetotime, he is very sweet, and he seems to be everything i look for in a potential Godly partner. At the moment we are only talking, not dating as yet and we are attracted to each other. He is so beautiful inside and out i dont know whats hit me!
      BUT, at the same time i am waiting on Gods perfect timing fall into place between me and this new man, as i was starting to get in a huge hurry for God to get him to ask me out, but i am told wait. Its hard as heck but what can i do? 🙂

      Even if the dating doesnt work out between us then at least i can say that i am blessed with a good Christian friend whom i can share my walk with Jesus with.
      I still cant believe i let the past get to me back then too, i feel so silly and it totally wasnt worth it.

      Ps i would’ve written this on aforementioned post but it wouldnt allow me to. God bless

      1. VanessaWorld,

        I am so glad to hear from you! And it sounds like things are going very well. May God continue to bless your walk with Christ and use your life for His glory. Thanks so much for the update! 🙂

  2. Wow wow wow…a whole lot of the Christian romantic novels I read were a long time ago before I got married and started having children. Now, I must be honest, I haven’t read so many Christian romantic novels but I do read my Bible daily and some Christian marriage books and blogs on a regular..

    You are doing an excellent job peaceful wife…May GOD continue to inspire you & grant you wisdom to direct…Amen.

    ++

  3. I have only recently started reading christian marriage advisory and that was after I rediscovered this blog. I read the advisory book of Tim and Kathy Keller, but it was not as practical (is that the proper English word?) as this blog is. I prefer Peacefulwife.com over marriage advisory books.

  4. I want to say that for me, romance novels aren’t a big trigger for discontentment. But then again, it may that the authors I read are very careful about how they portray the characters. I’m also able to separate that they’re fiction and not make the same expectations of my husband as a fictional book portrays…. sometimes they’re are very good spiritual lessons in Christian romance books, at least for me. Two authors that I find this true of are Marta Perry and Sarah Sundin.

    BUT, marriage books can discourage me if I’m not careful. This is where I have to carefully guard my thoughts. They can be very, very helpful if I keep my thoughts limited to MY part of the marriage and how I can be a better, more godly wife. If my thoughts start venturing into the things my husband could do to be a more godly husband, I begin to feel sad and discouraged. I have to be very careful to keep my focus on my part of the marriage and what I can control.

        1. Shy,
          That is the BEST PLACE in the world to be! To focus on your walk with Christ, to keep your eyes on Him, to allow Him total access to everything in Your heart, to cling to Him… That is HOME!

  5. I believe that christian romance is wrong because we are to watch what we set our mind to. When i got saved i was delivered of romance novels because it can cause a person who married to hold their marriage up to what they read in the book. Than you become unhappy with who the Lord has blest you with. I read the marriage books that are based on scripture and they have helped me greatly become a better wife. One secular book i have which is the submissive wife. Which actually can go either way. God bless remember Jesus is Lord.

  6. April, I’m so glad for this and your previous post! I was convicted by the Lord to stop reading romance novels some years ago, because they stirred up lusts and depicted fornication. I’ve never read any of the “Christian” romance novels.

    Having said that, I make a point to avoid much of pop culture, including fiction novels, because they can so easily captivate my imaginations, and it’s already hard enough for me to bring those captive to Christ. Since women are the weaker sex, it’s easy for us to be vulnerable to these books and their unrealistic portrayals of men and married life.

  7. I am probably different than most. I take some good things from Christian romance novels but I realize it is just a book and not real life. It doesn’t make me compare my life. If anything it makes me strive to be more loving.

    I have known too many “Christian” men who looked perfect at church and other wives held him up to their husbands and wished they had a man like him and then this same “perfect” man turned out to be not so perfect.

    I am very thankful for my husband everyday. I read at least 2 books a month but I think they are helpful in my marriage not harmful.

    I have friends that are the opposite of me and shouldn’t read romantic books, so I can understand both sides.

  8. I used to read Amish romance novels but I noticed two things were happening as I read them. First I would compare the Christian husbands with my own and wish my husband was like the one in the novel. Secondly I would have negative feelings towards the Amish. This all changed a few years ago when the Lord convicted me and I met my born again Christian Amish friend.

    1. Regina,

      It is so interesting to me to hear how different women respond to these books. I would definitely compare my husband to the romantic lead and resent that he didn’t talk to me as much or the way the romantic lead talked to his wife/suitor. But I romanticized the Amish and tended to resent living where I live, thinking things would be so much better and more simple if I could live like the Amish did.

      I believe I could read romantic books now without feeling resentful. I watched a Hallmark movie 2 weeks ago when I had the flu – Greg put it on. And I did fine. But for many years – I seriously couldn’t watch chick flicks or read romantic novels – even rated G Christian ones – without being jealous of the female lead and the love, romance, and attention she received from the male lead.

      I’m so glad you have an Amish friend! That is wonderful. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  9. Before being saved, I used to read a lot. Since being saved, I don’t read nearly as much and have switched to Christian books. I prefer historical fiction as I find the story and characters are ‘proper’. The romance is usually very light. Secular books are not enjoyable anymore, it’s difficult to find anything that is completely appropriate.

    I have read a couple of marriage books by Christian authors, unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be reading any more. I find they are an avenue for discontentment.

  10. When I read such books or watch such movies, they create desires for the things presented and then trigger off huge frustration for me . After all, who reads them without having as a goal changing their marriage to the way it should be? Who reads them without hoping they will salve an ache in your heart or lead to your husband being the man he ought to be in some way? Or somehow becoming the kind of woman he would change for? The trouble is we only have general ideas about what that should look like and we also don’t have the control necessary to get the other half of the marriage to get in line with the program. Only God knows specifically what His will is for my husband or me. I don’t even know that. The trouble with marriage books is its mostly women who buy and read them. And romance books just fuel the fires by presenting men who are always godly, always know the right thing to say and are always very principled guys you can count on and not get let down by.

    It’s mostly women who are mainly relationship oriented too so if a marriage book is written in woman speak, according to a woman’s wiring, how is it going to work to try and foist it upon a man, however good and right the desired changes may be? Even ones written by male counsellors can be problematic in that it keeps alive the notion that a man OUGHT to be able to think and speak into a woman’s deepest needs and longings, and oh, hey, here’s one that does, so they all should be able to, and this book is the proof. It’s easy to accept that you can’t have something if NO ONE can have it but hard to accept it if it appears to exist and someone else has it but not you. I think these books keep alive that ideal notion and promote a very idealistic picture of what a godly man looks like.

    None of the men in the Amish romance books ever forget to flush the toilet, or leave stinky socks and underwear on the floor or are rude and insensitive and hurt your feelings. They are seldom at a loss for words and if they are, they go away and pray and come back with the right godly thing to say. Such writing breeds dissatisfaction and doesn’t help you to have an objective view of where you are at and what realistic expectations should be. It isn’t just Christian marriage books that can create this problem. It’s books about the Christian walk that can do it too. These books seem to cause one to worship the fruit being idealized instead of the Master Gardener who created the darn tree.

    I think part of the problem is a lack of objectivity paired alongside the presentation of the ideal; books tend to present the ideal aimed at with no realistic time frame as to what kind of effort it takes and how long it takes to get there or what kind of trials you may face on the way. It just holds up the shining ideal, makes you want it and then leaves you in the dust of frustration because you cannot attain it nor get everyone else to cooperate along the way. They are basically what is called “self help” books which actually is out of sync with the way the Holy Spirit works through the word. He doesn’t rush us or dump a whole lot of high and lofty goals on us all at once like a book does. It takes a week to read a book but a life time to develop the maturity and fruits of character these books describe. I think we should seriously limit and be very judicious about which books we read and some of us should stick to scripture alone for at least a time.

    Comparison makes people miserable. But I seriously doubt anyone’s marriage, even if you are married to doctor Dobson, is that ideal. I remember reading that Shirley Dobson rakes leaves when she is angry or upset about something. Clearly since their leaves get raked a few times a year, Shirley does not have the perfect man or marriage. If you are a person with very strong ideals and longings for godliness and for heaven, then the very thing which promises to help you there can actually become a poisonous stumbling block. It is possible to long for heaven and godliness and not realize you aren’t longing for Jesus. Also, self help books Christian or otherwise, are not God breathed, Spirit inspired writing so they impact us differently than scripture and interact with our flesh differently. The bible is a living book. Self help books are not. They have no eyes to see your heart or your need, whereas scripture is said to be able to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart and to divide even between joints and marrow which is pretty fine discernment.

  11. I used to read Christian marriage books with the intent of learning how to change and grow, but lately I read them with a wary eye.

    I can’t say that I ever read one and felt disillusioned with my husband, but I have read books in the past and came away feeling far more comfortable in my sin than I should after reading a Christian marriage book.

    As for the romance novels, I haven’t read any of those in years although I have read secular novels that have romantic stories weaved into them. Thankfully I’ve grown past the point of viewing my husband negatively as a result.

    Fiction is fiction and real life is real life.

  12. I’ve never been much for romance novels, so haven’t struggled in this area. But I’ve struggled when it comes to Christian marriage books, secular marriage books, and even blogs. Even when they are entirely focused on what I should be doing. Especially since most marriage books have a large focus on well if you are always available sexually, persue your husband sexually etc, you’re marriage will be great. Being in a marriage where my husband doesn’t have as high if a drive, this just leaves me frustrate, and bitter. I’m coming to find more and more that my husband just doesn’t fit the typical mold in a few areas, so it’s just more frustrating then helpful.
    I find books on my walk with God to be much more helpful for my marriage then marriage books are. But even then it’s important to be picky.
    There are some really lovely fiction books as well that leave me really seeing the Lord shining through, even in secular ones. But I don’t really struggle with these causing discontent in my life (other then wanting to drop everything to keep reading ;))

  13. As I’ve been reading the comments here, the thought came to mind, how much are both husbands and wives, affected by the stereotypes in most media today? I was considering how while I would like to be like the men in steadfastness portrayed in most movies and books, the truth is we all have our bad days and times of weakness.

    In many ways, I think romance novels, and even movies with romantic interests portray an ideal of what constitutes a “real man” , or a “real woman” that is neither attainable or godly. Christian romance novels and movies are probably just considered “safe” because they don’t involve outright sin. The run of the mill romance novels from what I’ve seen are simply erotica for ladies.

    1. Ted,

      I think we are affected by stereotypes and by things that are presented in the media quite a bit. It is easy to begin to build expectations based on what seems “normal” in the media. I am glad that some believers are avoiding the erotica stuff and going for books that don’t contain outright sin. That is great. But, ladies, we must also watch OUR motives and our responses and thoughts as we read or watch these things. For some of us, even a simple, rated G, wholesome Christian book can bring up much temptation for sinful motives and thoughts in our own hearts.

      Thanks so much for sharing, Ted!

  14. I have to say that reading either Christian or secular romance novels don’t affect my marriage at all. My hubby is a sinner just like me, he is not a man that can or would be invented as a character in a book. In my sin of perfectionism Lord help me not put that on my husband it would be horrible for the both of us. I read romance novels and watch disney movies and romantic comedies and love stories just as they are entertainment. In no way is my life a movie, in 90 minutes or 300 pages can my life be wrritten. Thank you so much for your perspective and your blog you have helped me to hear the voice of the Lord working to refine me and work my pride, perfectionism and my expectations to be my Christ centered and not Tina centered. Blessings to you and your day 🙂

  15. I love reading books, especially to clear my head after a stressful day. Usually, the books I read are historical or Amish romance, since I like historical best, and although I’m not married, I wouldnt say that they effect my “want list”… I’m certainly not looking for a civil war soldier or Amishman.

    I have my favorites when it comes to books and its like the way a pretty rainbow makes me appreciate God’s love when there is a HEA. God can do anything.

    I think that “clean” relationships and “good characters” are a must though, when I read, and have been known to despise YA: That stuff talks about one three letter word and nothing else.

  16. This is beyond difficult for me. I’ve just discovered that my husband has Asperger’s. On the one hand, biblical submission has helped me see this. It helped me see what dynamics were actually a result of my own choices and what were beyond my control. My learning to respect him has helped him be his best. On the other hand, it makes me sad to think that a lot of my emotional turmoil was absolutely normal resulting from a true void and not from a controlling spirit in me. During a really difficult time in my marriage, a friend introduced me to the Twilight series. Honestly, the main male character reminded me so much of my own husband and it reminded me of the feelings I’d once had for him. The escape into fantasy felt so nice but it gave me a hangover like no other. I was always faced with my confusing reality after the story was done and was an emotional basketcase. I stay away from all romance stuff because it’s just too much for me and the ‘Christian’ books are just comical with cheesy Christianeese sprinkled throughout. Honestly, my husband was also hurt by seeing me read these books. He felt that I was indirectly telling him he wasn’t enough and he thought I wanted him to mimic what was in those stories. Not so. Sometimes I just wanted a hug or hear him genuinely say he loved me. Luckily, my husband is very high functioning, was in all the gifted and talented programs growing up and misdiagnosed bi-polar in college. My children adore him. Perhaps one day he’ll accept this diagnosis but right now he doesn’t want another label wrongly defining who he is. I understand that. I also know that what he’s giving me is probably truly all that he can give without the therapy for couples who have Asperger’s particularly as an issue. So I’ll work to make the best of it, still aiming to be the best wife God wants me to be while working hard to not turn to lesser means as a way of self-soothing. I’ve sometimes contributed things and wondered if anyone reading them has thought, “wow, that Refined lady is really sort a crazy…” I just want to say thanks for giving me a place to sort things out, process and grow. It’s been quite a journey. Bless you, April.

    1. This is really interesting, I have a brother in law that I feel might have something along the lines of aspergers, after taking about the symptoms to my husband he agrees that it is a strong possibility. It has caused lots of issues in their marriage, my sister in law has asked for advice, and I would love to help. Is there any resources you have found that could help another wife in these circumstances?

    2. Refined,

      This is REALLY IMPORTANT! I am sure it must be a bit devastating – but at the same time – this provides A LOT of answers! There are many resources today – more than ever – about Asberger’s and being married to someone with Asberger’s. I’m actually really excited for you both. I think that you will have a better handle on the issues you are facing and I think you will now be able to focus on finding the tools you need to conquer the issues together. I’m sure it will take a bit of time for the shock to wear off. But – I love you so much, my precious sister! I am sending the BIGGEST hug!

      Have you heard of the man with Asberger’s who wrote a book about how he learned to become a better husband? He taught himself how to overcome his Asberger’s in his marriage. It doesn’t have the best language – but Greg read it, and I read parts of it. It is really interesting to see a glimpse into this husband’s mind, how he thinks, and how he painstakingly taught himself to overcome his challenges. There are also many support groups for spouses now – not sure if there are Christian ones. But I feel confident that at this point, you have God’s Spirit to help you weed out unbiblical teaching.

      Much love to you!!!!!!! I’m so glad to be on this road together!

      1. Thank you so much for this encouragement. My head and emotions are all over the place but one of the biggest feelings is validation. I have heard about that particular man and his wife…their story gives me hope. But I’m a bit too vulnerable to pick up that book in case my husband never really wishes to make any changes on his end in our marriage. I don’t want to set myself up. What I have been doing is reading…reading…reading… and applying what I can. This is how I process the not-so-good stuff life can throw at us. I get busy. I’ll probably have to find a support group online, however. I’m just expectant that God will continue to lead me. It feels good to know I’m not crazy.

        1. Refined,

          If you do choose to read that book – it would have to be from the perspective of trying to learn to understand your husband’s way of thinking and challenges, rather than how your husband could change. But you may not be ready for it yet. I totally understand that!

          I am praying for you both, and you are always welcome here. I am happy to listen, to cry with you, and to pray with you! 🙂 Sending you a HUGE hug, my precious sister!

  17. I really enjoy historical romances because it slightly mirrors the kind of relationship I have with my husband. I have always thought of us as a couple out of one of these books, strangely enough.

    Christian marriage advice books, however, have gotten me into loads of trouble in thinking that I married an insensitive brute. One that comes to mind in particular has given the reader these ideas:

    A man doesn’t truly love his wife or God unless he wants a large family.

    A man that doesn’t take his wife on a vacation or romantic getaway is selfish.

    A man that does not help with the household duties and the rearing of the children is a bad husband and father.

    A man should give his wife lots of breaks and time off if she is home with the children all day.

    A man that doesn’t surprise his wife often with love letters or little gifts is thoughtless.

    A man that is not the spiritual leader in the home has issues and will pay for his sin, and the wife should urge him to lead the children more in prayer.

    A man that doesn’t listen to his wife’s emotional distress or deep feelings is unfeeling and ungodly.

    The list goes on and on, but you can see where a wife, such as myself, in a very traditional marriage can get caught up in thinking that this would mean her marriage is lacking somehow.

    One of the only books that has helped me to see the falsehood of these ideas is “Created to be His Helpmeet” by Debi Pearl. I truly wish there were more books on Christian marriage out there like this. Another good one that I refer to all of the time is “How to Change Your Husband” by a “friend of Medjugorje”. Both of these books focus on unconditional love and respect for the husband. Since it is easier to change myself than my husband, I appreciate the sage advice that these authors give.

    While my husband may not meet the criteria in some of these other Christian marriage advice books, he is very romantic, old school, and dominant…in a good way! So I see more of him in these historical romance novels than I do in the more sensitive Christian marriage advice books!

    I think this is a great post, April. This is something that has been bugging me for a long time about Christian marriage books!

    1. Mrs. G,

      I agree with you. Having a “Command Man” husband presents different outlooks and challenges. I also love Created To Be His Helpmeet. It gets such a bad rap but she is married to a command man so ladies who are not may have a harder time with her book. She knows what she is talking about when it comes to Command men!

      I think the same goes for some of April’s teachings. She at times will suggest talking to your husband about x or y. Even if I set the time and day in advance a month, he will not want to talk about feelings and will most likely get mad. Does that make him a bad person? No, it just isn’t his comfort zone. I do a whole lot better sending him a short text or just stating my concern in 2 or 3 sentences and not expecting a response. I know he loves me and cares about my feelings but he doesn’t do heart to heart talks. I honestly thinks it brings up emotion, and he does have a very tender heart, and he doesn’t like that.

      Still I my life has completely changed because of April’s teachings! I doubt she will ever realize here on earth, the impact she has had on so many women.

      My advice for marriage books is take from them what works for your marriage. Don’t try to mold your marriage like the book. I did the Respect Dare on line and the author says often, “This may not work in your marriage.” or “You husband may not be like this”

      I try to read marriage books that are only geared towards women, then I don’t run into what husbands should be doing.

      1. That should have read “My Advice for others…” It sounds like I was addressing Mrs. G and she has already figure that out for herself. 🙂

      2. Love this, Daisymae! Thank you so much for sharing.

        And thanks for the encouragement!

        I actually approach my Mr Steady in a very similar way to what you describe – and don’t demand or expect a response. Just casually toss out some of my concerns very briefly as I walk through the room to get laundry or something, then leave and let him think about it.

        How I praise God that He has allowed me to be a blessing to you. I can’t wait to see all that He has in store!

        Much love!

  18. I’ve heard a lot about this topic. I love to read–always have–and romance is my favorite genre. This is a blog post I think handles the subject well.

    http://bethanyfiction.com/2014/07/17/in-defense-of-christian-romances/

    Sure, some women may be in an emotional state where they shouldn’t read novels, but I don’t think it’s fair to deem all romance novels harmful.

    Some Christian novels are harmful. I realize that. There’s one author who I will.not read anymore because her books depicted lust as love.

    But most novels in the inspirational genre are written by Christian women who have prayed for the Lord to allow them to touch someone’s heart with their writing. I believe that’s important to remember.

    Writing books is their ministry.
    I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read where the heroine had to overcome her sins before she could be in a godly relationship.

    An especially good one is Courting Cate by Leslie Gould. A lot of women who read this blog could probably benefit from that one.

    1. Thank you so much for this, Courtney!

      Yes, some novels can be harmful. I am not condemning all novels across the board. And sometimes, the problem is less the actual novel, and more our own spiritual state and our own motives and expectations as we read.

      Thank you so much for sharing and for the link! 🙂

  19. I always remind myself that 99%, at least, of the Christian romance novels I read are written by a women author. That means to me that the ideas of romance, how the man views the woman and how he pursues her are not how a man actually thinks but how a woman thinks. The books are coming from a woman’s heart and desires.

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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